RyanOReilly

 

Who is the better fantasy hockey own - Bozak or O'Reilly?

 

 

 

This week’s match features Tyler Bozak versus Ryan O’Reilly. Both are enjoying the best year of their young careers; but can they sustain (or improve upon) their current scoring pace in future seasons?

 

Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

Although they were born nearly five years apart (O’Reilly turned 23 in February, Bozak just turned 28) it’s actually O’Reilly that has almost 50 additional NHL games on his resume. This is mainly due to O’Reilly jumping directly to the NHL after being drafted in 2009 (impressive considering he was a second rounder) while Bozak split 2009-2010 between the AHL and NHL after signing as an undrafted free agent. Fast forward to now, and each is an unquestioned top six player.

Contract status is interesting for both. This past offseason Bozak signed a five year, $21M contract which some felt was undeserved but might just end up being a bargain if his production this season is any indication. As for O’Reilly (“ROR”), he was an RFA when the CBA expired before the lockout and chose to ink a two year KHL deal. But once the lockout ended he couldn’t come to terms with the Avs, even after terminating his KHL contract. Finally, more than a month after NHL games had resumed, ROR signed a two year, $10M offer sheet with Calgary; Colorado matched, resulting in ROR now being on the last season of that deal and poised to once again be an RFA this summer.

It’s very good to see Bozak putting up career best stats after signing his UFA contract, as there’s always concern about players slowing down after finally pocketing big bucks. With ROR, he’s already produced while earning $5M this season and he’s still at least one contract away from being a UFA, so there’s no reason to suspect he’ll slack off once he signs another RFA deal this summer.

The question is how much ROR stands to be paid on his upcoming deal. Colorado is more than $20M below the 2014-15 cap as of now, and their only major UFA to be is Paul Stastny. All things considered, it seems likely that ROR will get a raise putting him in the vicinity of the $5.57M per year Gabriel Landeskog earns, or perhaps even approaching Matt Duchene’s $6M per year. For those in cap leagues, that means ROR could cost 30% or more than Bozak for each of the next several years.

 

Ice Time (2013-14 through March 24th)

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (with rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (with rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time (with rank among team’s forwards)

2013-14

19:42 (ROR) – 1st

20:59 (TB) – 1st

2:40 (ROR) – 3rd

2:43 (TB) – 3rd

1:07 (ROR) – 5th

1:15 (TB) – 7th

2012-13

18:30 (ROR) – 5th

20:18 (TB) – 1st

2:34 (ROR) – 4th

2:58 (TB) – 2nd

0:54 (ROR) – 8th

1:38 (TB) – 4th

2011-12

19:31 (ROR) – 1st

18:50 (TB) – 2nd

2:21 (ROR) – 2nd

2:47 (TB) – 3rd

1:10 (ROR) – 6th

0:41 (TB) – 8th

2010-11

16:06 ((ROR) – 9th

19:16 (TB) – 3rd

0:37 (ROR) – 12th

2:57 (TB) – 5th

2:24 (ROR) – 3rd

1:48 (TB) – 3rd

 

While Bozak’s overall Ice Time is higher this season, it’s only 41 seconds more per game than 2012-13 (representing a mere 3.3% increase). And although his shorthanded Ice Time is down 23 seconds from last season, his PP Ice Time has decreased as well. Long story short – Bozak’s significant increase in production and point scoring pace this season is not at all tied to huge jumps in Ice Time. On one hand that could be seen as a positive, since it suggests he’s simply improving as a player. But it also could mean he’s just having an unsustainably lucky season. We’ll know a lot more when we look at his metrics like PDO (see below).

ROR’s Ice Time has been about as consistent as it could be over the past three seasons, other than a minor drop in overall Ice Time last year. And I wouldn’t expect it to change next season even if he signs a bigger contract, since as I noted in one of my recent columns Patrick Roy is an advocate of spreading Ice Time pretty evenly among his top six, including on the PP. As with Bozak, we’ll have to look at ROR’s metrics as well to get the full story, although the fact that ROR is seeing his breakout occur at age 23, instead of age 28 like Bozak, is in and of itself a bit more encouraging.

 

Secondary Categories & Metrics (2013-14 through March 24th)

 

Season

PIMs (per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

Face-off Percentage

2013-14

0.00 (ROR)

0.24 (TB)

0.30 (ROR)

1.12 (TB)

0.55 (ROR)

0.73 (TB)

2.52 (ROR)

1.57 (TB)

0.29 (ROR)

0.16 (TB)

51.5% (ROR)

48.9% (TB)

2012-13

0.13 (ROR)

0.13 (TB)

0.24 (ROR)

1.41 (TB)

0.48 (ROR)

0.50 (TB)

2.27 (ROR)

1.32 (TB)

0.20 (ROR)

0.19 (TB)

52.8% (ROR)

52.6% (TB)

2011-12

0.15 (ROR)

0.30 (TB)

0.76 (ROR)

1.60 (TB)

0.62 (ROR)

0.46 (TB)

2.33 (ROR)

1.49 (TB)

0.18 (ROR)

0.16 (TB)

52.8% (ROR)

52.7% (TB)

2010-11

0.21 (ROR)

0.17 (TB)

0.71 (ROR)

1.03 (TB)

0.42 (ROR)

0.58 (TB)

1.61 (ROR)

1.46 (TB)

0.05 (ROR)

0.13 (TB)

51.8% (ROR)

54.6% (TB)

 

The data for PP points is intriguing, as ROR’s pace is well above any past season despite comparable PP Ice Time. But I think most of that has to do with Colorado’s PP going from being ranked 24th last season, to eighth for 2013-14. And with many of Colorado’s young top six poised to improve in coming seasons, it’s reasonable to expect that the team - including ROR - should continue to enjoy PP success.

The news for Bozak isn’t as encouraging, as his PP scoring pace is down despite spending more than 86% of his PP Ice Time with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk (up from about 70% last season). You can’t ask for much better than that, which is why Bozak’s poor PP scoring pace (by comparison, Kessel’s is 0.27 per game, JVR’s is 0.21, and even Nazem Kadri’s is 0.22) is definitely not a good sign.

Each player holds a clear edge in one secondary category – Bozak in Hits, ROR in Shots; but Bozak’s Hits per game have decreased over each of the past two seasons, while ROR’s Shots totals are up this season. They’re fairly comparable in Blocked Shots (both are pretty good for forwards), PIMs (Bozak is pretty bad, and ROR is terrible – he has ZERO this season!) and Faceoff %, although ROR’s Faceoff % doesn’t reflect the fact that he’s taking far fewer draws per game this season (only about four per game, compared to more than 15 in 2012-13 and nearly 18 in 2011-12), so be careful if your league counts Faceoff wins instead of or in addition to Faceoff %.

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting Percentage (5x5)

PDO (5x5)

Offensive Zone Start Percentage (5x5)

2013-14

14.9% (ROR)

22.1% (TB)

9.21% (ROR)

12.40% (TB)

996 (ROR)

1034 (TB)

48.7% (ROR)

39.2% (TB)

2012-13

9.1% (ROR)

19.7% (TB)

7.53% (ROR)

11.01% (TB)

963 (ROR)

1027 (TB)

50.7% (ROR)

44.8% (TB)

2011-12

9.5% (ROR)

16.5% (TB)

6.54% (ROR)

9.58% (TB)

986 (ROR)

996 (TB)

50.0% (ROR)

52.5% (TB)

2010-11

10.9% (ROR)

12.5% (TB)

6.63% (ROR)

6.57% (TB)

978 (ROR)

970 (TB)

40.5% (ROR)

52.4% (TB)

 

Amazingly, Bozak’s Personal Shooting %, Team Shooting % and PDO have all increased each season since 2010-11, and stand at 22.1%, 12.40% and 1034 respectively for 2013-14. And although Bozak’s career Personal Shooting % is 16.5%, these still are unsustainable numbers. One saving grace is his under 40% offensive zone starting percentage, since chances are that will be higher next season, which can only help production. But the overall trends in these metrics don’t bode particularly well for him improving much beyond (if even being able to sustain) his current 73 point scoring pace in the coming seasons.

One last point about Bozak’s Personal Shooting % - as nice as it is to see that a player is more likely to score when he shoots, the reality is you need to take more Shots than Bozak does in order to be a big time point producer in this league. Guess how many players finished in the top 40 in NHL scoring last season with a Personal Shooting % over 15.0% yet also without averaging more than two Shots per game? How about ONE! Yup, just Mike Ribeiro, and we’ve seen how he’s come back to earth this season. And this year, as of March 24th there were ZERO players in the top 40 in scoring with a shooting percentage over 15.0% but who don’t also average two or more shots per game. What this all means is Bozak might have an uphill battle to be a consistent top points producer in today’s NHL if – as seems likely - he continues to be very accurate, but also very selective with shooting the puck.

ROR’s numbers tell a different, and more optimistic, story. Certainly his Personal and Team Shooting % and PDO numbers are way up this season compared to any of the past three; however, this is likely more a function of how low they were in past years. After all, consider that none of his career best numbers in these areas for this season are higher than Bozak’s for either of the past two seasons. In fact, for ROR to be scoring above a 67 point pace this season with a PDO still lower than 1000 and a team shooting % well below 10% suggests there is very realistic room for further improvement next season and down the road.

 

Who Wins?

O’Reilly wins for the simple reason that what we’re seeing from Bozak this season might be well be the best he ends up producing, whereas ROR still looks to be on an upward trajectory.

While Bozak has a great spot between Kessel and JVR, I think he could end up being the second coming of Brendan Morrison, who centered Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi in Vancouver for many years, including a three year stretch when he scored 67, 71, and 60 points (66 average) but Naslund tallied 90, 104, and 84 (93 average) and Bertuzzi had 85, 90, and 60 (78 average). What I’m getting at is centering two top point producing wingers doesn’t automatically mean you’ll turn into a points machine, and I think that’s where Bozak might be heading given all the data and trends we saw here.

With O’Reilly, the only concern at this point is whether Colorado’s system of giving similar Ice Time to top six forwards might act as a de facto points ceiling, as it has for someone like David Krecji in Boston. Even still, ROR is scoring at a 67+ point pace this season despite much lower Ice Time than Bozak and with metrics like PDO and Team/Personal Shooting % that still have realistic room to improve, in which case his points should also increase even without more Ice Time.

Having said all this, Bozak is currently owned in 36% of Yahoo leagues compared to O’Reilly’s 72%, so at least Bozak will cost you a lot less to obtain. But ROR gives you an added benefit – at least for this season – of C/LW dual eligibility, which is a big benefit over Bozak (who’s only C eligible).  Plus, I still think that even that wide of a gap in cost doesn’t equate the players enough to erase the concerns I have about Bozak’s future production.

At this point, I’d strongly recommend that Bozak owners explore selling, as some GMs in your leagues likely could be talked into paying through the nose given his points per game pace this year (25th in the NHL among players with 40+ games) and his great linemates. Now (or this offseason) would be a great time to flip him to help improve your team, whether in the form of a defenseman or goalie, or even another forward who’s already a decent scorer but has more realistic point per game near term upside…….like maybe O’Reilly!

 

 

 

 

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